THE DReAMers: part 1.
There was nothing.
Then there was everything.
Darkness gave way to light as the Universe gave birth to time and space with the Cosmos expanding out from its beginnings.
The girl sat forward and watched through the teardrop window of her little ship as it winked into existence and floated there in the void as those first star systems were formed around her. She glanced at the numbers on the dial. She had arrived less than a millisecond after the event happened. It was impossible to get any closer for the laws of time wouldn’t allow it and the only way to travel was when time was a thing.
The great expansion had begun and she glanced at the other ships arriving on her scope with a smile. Of course, there would be others. Others like her. Here to witness the start of everything.
She sat there for hours in her little cocoon as it drifted on c-beams that glittered and sparkled all around her. The wonder and beauty of it all catching her breath over and over as she watched. She could spend an eternity here and it would only be the merest blink of an eye to her.
A soft blue light flickered on the black panel in front of her.
Time to go. Time to go back where she came from.
Today was a very important day. The day when she would learn the meaning of her life and the reasons she had been chosen. Pressing the blue light, the girl sat back in her padded seat listening as the singular engine started to charge up for the jump. She felt nervous, even scared, at what awaited her back home. Even observing the beginnings of everything was nothing compared to the things she was going to do in her future.
This story began a very very long time ago and will only end a very very long time from now.
“Hurry up, Harry!” urged Dorothy excitedly, “We can’t be late to meet the Wizard!”
The girl grabbed my hand and pulled me through the meadow and up the short rise until we both stood together on the top of the hill. She turned to me laughing with her pigtails blowing in the breeze as the lush green grass all around us ebbed and flowed like waves upon the sea.
“Look,” she whispered as she snuggled into my right side with her little dog running around us chasing butterflies, “I told you it was real.”
She was right. It was really real. I stood there in awed amazement and gasped at the magnificence and splendor of it.
There in the distance was the great Emerald city of OZ.
Dorothy turned and pointed up at the deep blue sky. “Look Toto!” she cried as great opal shaped airships sailed serenely overhead with people waving at us from the wooden gondoliers slung below the multi-coloured blimps as they headed toward the far side of the metropolis and the old city port which even from this distance one could see was a hive of activity on this day of all days.
I let her take my hand again and I walked as she skipped along the road towards the stone bridge that led to the imposing city gates where people of all shapes and sizes were already making their way for the festivities. Two Cossack like guards, each easily seven feet tall in their purple bearskin hats, coats and uniform, stood either side of the entrance holding long spears as they kept watch for hundreds if not thousands were making their way into the city.
Dorothy had picked up her dog and put him back in her basket. “Stay close,” she warned me as she clasped my left hand, “Stay close or else we’ll never find each other again, Harry!”
We passed through the city gates with its emerald arch gleaming in the mid-morning sun as the true magnitude of what I was seeing hit me. We truly were off to see the Wizard. The Wonderful Wizard of OZ. All around us sellers of this, that, and the other had set up stalls to sell their wares to the populace and the smells and sounds of boiling copper kettles and bubbling cooking pots filled the air.
Dorothy twisted around and pressed herself up against me. She looked up at me with those wide blue eyes in sharp contrast to her rosebud colored hair. She was wearing a blue chequered summer dress with a white vee shaped collar that revealed a pair of sizeable bosoms squeezed into the confines of her bodice. She put a finger on her chin and dimpled innocently. “I shall be back in two shakes of a lamb’s tail and not a moment before, Harry. You just wait there like a good little boy,” she promised as she thrust her basket into my arms and turned to disappear into the maddening crowd.
What the heck? “Hey, wait,” I shouted above the din, “Where are you going?!”
She skipped across the courtyard towards a building where buskers and watchers sat outside with busy barmaids bustling around serving customers with flagons of ale. She reached the top step and turned to give me a wave. “To let the Wizard know we’re here, silly!” And with that, she disappeared inside.
I stood there for a moment just staring at the sign outside the Inn. “The Hobgoblins Knob,” it said and I smiled despite my childish confusion. I took a deep breath and could feel the haze beginning to lift and my head start to clear. I looked up at the sun and realized it had a smaller twin sat behind it. How long had I been here? An hour? A day? And where had Dorothy come from?
Suddenly there was a commotion. Over the heads of the crowd, I could see half a dozen of the city guards chasing someone through a side street with pikes drawn. I couldn’t see anyone and wondered what sort of trouble they were in. Pickpocketing or stealing food probably I thought to myself before, to my surprise, trouble found me. The girl skidded around the corner and ran straight into me to bounce back and fall on her backside with an audible “Ooof!” In a cloud of dust, she gave her head a shake as I stepped forward to see what she looked like and find out who she was.
In a day when time didn’t seem to matter much at all it came to a slow stop. The girl looked about twentyish give or take. She had long unkempt walnut hair that hung down past her shoulders and was tied with a band about six inches from the end. Her eyes were a fierce fiery blue with a nose that was impertinently pert and a pair of lips that slowly spread into a wide beaming smile when she saw me standing there staring open-mouthed at her for she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. She was dressed in a strange looking dark grey one-piece outfit that looked completely Escort different to what everyone else was wearing including me. She blinked and gave her head another shake before she looked me up and down.
“Well, look at you!” she grinned as people bustled around us with the cries of the guards in the background as they got closer, “You’re just like I’d imagined you would be,” she smiled with wonder as she scrambled to her feet. I stood there staring at her as she slowly reached forward with her right hand and cupped my left cheek which she stroked gently with her thumb, “This is so amazing,” she said softly to herself. She got down on her haunches and held my face in her hands as her eyes looked deeply into mine. I felt like I was drowning the longer we gazed at each other. I wanted to say something but saying anything at all was impossible.
“What are you?” she whispered, “Eleven? Twelve?” she asked, “You look twelve. So, you must have been about six when I first saw…” she began to say when a guard suddenly appeared behind her and grabbed her by the arms. She twisted in his grip to look back at me, “You’re not alone, Harry. You may think you are but you’re not. Even in here. Even in this wonderful place. This is just the beginning. This is only the start of everything. Remember this when you go back!”
She gave a grunt as the guard lifted her off her feet. I took a step forward to try and help her. “No, don’t,” she said with a smile, “I’m alright. I’ll be fine. You keep doing what you were doing. Remember to always follow that yellow brick road, Harry. It will always lead you back to where you belong!” Other guards had arrived and were standing around the girl. There was no escaping now. Or so I thought.
Wait. “How do you know my name?!” I shouted at her. I was absolutely positively positive we had never met and she looked at least ten years older than me. Who was she?
She didn’t answer but asked me a question in return.
“What year is this for you, Harry?”
I frowned at her above the din. What? Year? What year was this? What a stupid question. I shook my head at her and she just nodded as if she understood.
To my utter surprise, she blew me a kiss and waved. Then with a glance at her would be captors, she reached behind her right ear and promptly vanished into thin air to leave the guards standing in a circle much bemused and muttering amongst themselves.
Such was the crush, I stepped back into a small alcove and looked down into the basket to see Toto staring at me. What the heck had just happened? Where did she go? Then, just as I thought the situation couldn’t get any more batshit insane, the dog spoke to me:
“Remember the mission, Harry,” it said gruffly, “Remember the mission.”
I stared open-mouthed at the talking dog. Mission? What mission?
Dorothy grabbed my hand and dragged me into the smokey den that was the Hobgoblins Knob. Inside, the air was thick of ripe tobacco and other smells that I didn’t even want to think about. We were in some sort of reception area which looked like a place where rogues, scoundrels, and pirates would meet up.
“You need to sign the visitor’s book, Harry,” she told me as she pushed me forward so that we stood before the wooden oak counter which had an open ledger and brass bell on it, “You need to sign the book so we can go where we need to go!” she urged.
Okay. Okay. I can do that. I picked up the bell and gave it a ring.
Out of nowhere, a figure popped up from behind the counter and we both jumped back a step in surprise. “Hey diddle diddle said the cat with the fiddle, what can I do for you two this fine day?” said the Scarecrow as he leaned on his elbow and drummed the fingers of his right hand on the counter in front of us.
I stared at him. He was a man made of straw and he could talk. Of course, he was and could. I picked up the pen and scribbled my name in the guestbook. “Uh, do I have to pay anything?” I asked him, “Because I don’t think I have any money.”
The Scarecrow looked at me thoughtfully. “Well, if I had a brain I’d tell you. But since I don’t I can’t. But seeing as this is the one day of the year that the Great Wizard of OZ makes an appearance, let’s just say that this one is on the house,” He rang the bell and gave me a wink, “There we go,” he beamed, “Another two signed in and ready to go!”
Another two? There were more? Where were the others? Were we part of a larger group? I turned and my mouth dropped open in surprise as a tall silvery figure approached.
“Oh goodness gracious. Look who we have here. Two more to meet the Great OZ!” said the Tin Man who had an oil can in his hand and was squirting some of it into his right ear.
I took a step back and pointed at him, “Yuh, you, you’re the Tin Man!” I gasped as he loomed over me as I stood there gawping at him in astonishment, “What are you doing?”
He rolled his eyes as his joints squeaked and groaned as he moved. “Lubrication, Harry,” he explained, “Thrice a day to stop me freezing up. Now, if I had a heart, I wouldn’t have to do this at all,” he sighed.
There was a tap on my shoulder and I turned to look who it was. I gave a yell and jumped a foot into the air in shock. Holy cow. This was getting ridiculous!
The Cowardly Lion held up his paws. “C’mon, you little twerp,” he growled, “Put ’em up. Put ’em up!”
So I did and stood there with my fists up.
The Lion gave a loud shriek, threw up both his arms and surrendered. “Hey, hey, hey, kid. Calm down!” he pleaded as he grabbed his tail and chewed on the end, “I can’t handle drama!” he blubbed with his lower lip trembling like he was going to cry.
Wait? What? Oh, of course. “What you need is courage!” I said to him.
He spread his arms wide. “I KNOW!” he bawled, “I keep telling everybody that!!”
So there I stood with the Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, and Scarecrow all looking at me as Dorothy came skipping back down the stairs and grabbed my hand.
“Come on, Harry!” she said excitedly, “It’s time!”
“Time?” I replied blankly.
She grabbed me and gave me a hug. “Time to meet the Wizard!” she beamed as she pulled me up the stairs as the others followed muttering amongst themselves.
The Scarecrow stood on the bottom step looking up at us. “Are you off to meet you know who?” he shouted, “The Big Guy?”
Dorothy nodded. “Indeed we are!”
“Can Escort Bayan I join you?” he asked looking at the other two standing behind him.
“Sure,” said the girl, “The more the merrier. We have to hurry so hurry up!”
The Inn turned out to be not an Inn at all. We found ourselves in a long red corridor lit by flickering lanterns and with a huge door at the other end. Dorothy giggled and continued to drag me after her with the rest of our group in tow. The corridor seemed never-ending and we were all gasping as we finally reached the Great Entrance to the Hall of OZ. We all turned and looked at each other wondering what to do next. The Cowardly Lion was trying to hide behind the Scarecrow who was scratching his head and looking puzzled at our situation.
“Don’t look at me!” he cried as he stroked his tail nervously, “I’m not knocking!”
Before anyone could do or say anything more, there was a great booming “ENTER!!” that echoed down the long corridor behind us. The Cowardly Lion promptly jumped into the Tin Man’s arms with fright.
With a great clank, the door slowly swung open to reveal the Great Hall filled with hundreds of people clapping and cheering as our little troupe walked inside and made our way towards the platform where a figure in a red robe and hood sat upon an emerald throne.
“It’s the Wizard, Harry!” whispered Dorothy as Toto sat barking in his basket.
The Wizard? The REAL Wizard of OZ?!
We stopped at the bottom of the marble stairs and waited as the figure stood up and raised his hands to stop the crowds clapping and cheering. I frowned for I couldn’t see his face as his cowl was pulled so far over as to hide it.
“GOOD FINE CITIZENS OF OZ. TODAY IS THE ONE DAY OF THE YEAR I GRANT FAVOR TO THOSE OF YOU WHO I THINK WORTHY OF THE GRANTING. I SEE THOSE THAT SEEK FAVOR BEFORE ME AND I GIVE EACH A WISH TO MAKE THEIR DREAMS COME TRUE. TELL ME THEN, WHAT WISH DO YOU WISH FOR MOST OF ALL?”
He took a step forward and regarded each of us in turn.
“YOU THERE,” he said, pointing at Dorothy and her ruby red slippers, “WHAT IS IT THAT YOU DESIRE THE MOST?”
Dorothy took a tentative step forward and curtseyed. “Well, your Mr. Wizardfullness, I’d really really like to go back to Kansas. That’s my home you see and where all the people I love live.”
The Wizard nodded and indicated the Scarecrow. “AND YOU. WHAT IS THE ONE THING I COULD GRANT YOU THAT WOULD MAKE YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE?”
The Scarecrow coughed and cleared his throat. “A brain, Sir. I want to be able to do Calculus. I want to know why the sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side. “
The Wizard slowly nodded. “HMMMMMM. AND YOU?”
The Tin Man was so nervous, he rattled, creaked, and shook as he stepped forward. “I would like nothing more than to have a heart Sir so that I can hear it ticking and know what I’m feeling to be good and true.”
If the Cowardly Lion could disappear in a puff of smoke he would have done so. We all got behind him and pushed him forward.
“Wuh, wuh, well,” he quaked as he stroked his tail nervously, “I’m supposed to be King of the Jungle but I’m really not. How can I be King of the Jungle when I even scare myself when I look in a mirror. To be King, I need to be many things to all people but most of all I need to have the courage of my convictions. I don’t want to be a cowardly custard anymore!” he pleaded as his shoulders slumped and he sighed a long sigh.
“AND YOU BELIEVE I CAN DO THIS FOR YOU?”
The Cowardly Lion nodded enthusiastically. “I believe, I believe. I believe. I do. I do. I do. I DO!”
The Wizard gave a grunt of satisfaction then turned to me.
“AND YOU, BOY,” he asked, “WHAT IS IT YOU WISH FOR MOST OF ALL?”
Uh. Okay. What do I want to wish for most of all right now? Right this very second?
The answer came to me in an instant. In a way, I had already asked it but never received a reply. I glanced at my companions who were all smiling at me and encouraging me to go forward. Taking a deep breath, I took the first step. Then another and another until I was before the Great Wizard of OZ who’s smile I could now see as he looked down on me. He leaned forward as I cupped my hand over my mouth so I could whisper to him. He nodded as I told him what I wanted more than anything and when I had finished he laid his hand on my shoulder.
“OF ALL THE WISHES I’VE GRANTED TODAY,” he called to the hushed crowds, “THIS WISH IS THE MOST SPECIAL OF ALL. FOR YOU, HARRY, THIS WISH SHALL NOT ONLY CHANGE YOUR LIFE BUT DETERMINE THE PASSAGE OF IT. WHEN ALL THINGS ARE SAID AND DONE, TRUE LOVE AND FINDING IT IS THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS.”
The crowds began to cheer and I stepped back. Above us suddenly was the wide blue sky and a huge airship approached overhead and I knew it was coming to take me back home. I turned to say goodbye to my new friends.
Dorothy came running up and hugged me tightly. “Harry, you are such a special little boy. But you’re special in a special way because to her you’re so very special indeed. She’ll be back. I can promise you that. So be ready!” She kissed me on the cheek and held me at arm’s length for a moment before letting me go to stand back as the ship came in to land.
This world was changing. Its colors became rich and vibrant as the people waved and cheered as I got on board my ride back home. So many people. So many faces I never knew or would ever know. As the airship rose into the blue beyond, everything began to slowly fade away. The adventure was coming to an end.
And all I could think of was the pretty lady who said, “Hey, look at you!”
It was still dark when I opened my eyes and stared at the shadows playing across the ceiling of my bedroom. The dream had already begun to slip away and I scrambled around inside my head trying to catch and remember the things that had happened in it.
Remember the girl. I had to remember the girl.
For some reason, that was the most important thing I needed to do.
I twisted around and switched on the standing lamp on my bedside table and ran over to my desk which was under my bedroom window where the curtains were still wide open with the pale glow of a mid-December moon shining brightly as it hung silently in the inky blackness of the night sky.
I pulled open Bayan Escort the drawer, grabbed my notepad and fiddled around in my case for a decent pencil. Then I began to scribble and draw the girl from my dreams. Recapturing the memory before I had no memory of her at all. I chewed on the end of my pencil as I stared at my first rough doodlings. No. She had longer hair. Reddish brown hair. A bit darker. And those strange clothes she wore.
Wait. The badge. There was a badge. Or was it a patch? On her right shoulder. The kind of thing you saw those spacemen wearing in Science class or when doing History about that time we went to the Moon. There had been words on it under what looked like some sort of machine.
I shook my head. It was no use. It had gone. I sat back and looked at my rough drawing of the girl. Thankfully, I was pretty good at art at school. It was definitely close. Especially the overall look of her. I wondered who she was and how she knew my name.
But then again it had only been a dream.
Suddenly, the bedroom door opened and mom peeked her head around it. “Hey, Buster,” she smiled, “Back to bed. School tomorrow, remember.”
I sighed and closed my notepad before returning to bed and slipping back under the thick blankets which kept out the Winter chill.
“Night, hon.” she smiled as she came over and tucked me in before switching off the light.
“Night, mom,” I yawned as I watched her close the door before rolling over and tucking the covers under my chin to keep in the warmth, “May the Force be with You.”
I lay there with all sorts of thoughts running through my twelve-year-old head. I yawned wider as the dream world returned and I slipped sleepily back into it wondering if I would dream the same dream again and if she would be there in them.
The copper kettle whistled as it stood rattling on the kitchen bench as I stumbled down the stairs to find my mother already sat at the table eating a bowl of cereal and reading the gossip section of the local newspaper.
“Hey, hon,” she said as I headed for the fridge.
“Uh huh,” I muttered as I took out my carton of orange juice and sleepily poured myself a glass before sitting opposite her. I glanced up at the paper she was reading: The Newton Gazzette. December 17th, 1977. “WHITEOUT – Weather Warnings for State!” said the headline. I looked out the window where the world was already hidden under a foot of freshly dunked snowfall.
Mom was already in her daily routine. Mom was divorced single Mom of five years who worked at a local packing company doing some sort of typewriter thingy stuff that put food on the table, bought me the odd Star Wars figure and paid the bills. Mom was your typical Mom, I guess. Thirty-three. About five-seven in her slippers. Sort of pretty. Not so thin anymore. Lots of girlfriends who’d help babysit – much to my embarrassment. We lived just outside of town off the interstate in a nice two bedroomed bungalow with a decent sized garden for Chewie to run around in. Chewie is my dog. I can talk to Chewie because Chewie just sits there and listens. Unlike Mom. Mom just pretended to listen most of the time.
“Hmmmm?” she said from behind her newspaper.
“Do you have dreams?”
“Everyone has dreams, hon.”
I know that. “No, what I mean is. Do people have dreams that are special?”
The paper dropped slightly and she peered at me over the top. “You have a bad one?”
I shook my head. “No. I just had one that was a bit weird,” I wondered how much I should tell her before she thought I was imagining things or going wacko, “There was someone in it who was different. Someone who I know I’ve never met before.”
Mom looked at me for a second and stubbed out her cigarette in the ashtray. “Was it a girl?” she asked.
I blushed and nodded. What had her being a girl got anything to do with it? Okay, I know all about girls. Well, sort of. I’m only twelve and three quarters after all. Most of my buddies thought girls should be left in the garbage chute.
I was warming to my topic. “Who are those people in my dreams that I’ve never met before?” I wondered out loud, “All those strangers with strange faces. Where do they come from?”
Mom put the paper down. “Who knows?” she said as she looked at me with a smile, “Maybe,” she said as she leaned forward to whisper to me, “Maybe they’re the people who are long gone and they sometimes come back when we dream. Remember when you saw Grandma, Grandad and Uncle Jake on the Death Star? Maybe this is the way they remind us of who they were so we don’t forget them. And, maybe, all those strangers with strange faces are the people they’ve made friends with and brought with them to say hello from wherever it is they all went.”
I stared wide-eyed at her. “That sounds kind of spooky.”
Mom laughed at the look on my face as she got up to do the dishes. “Or you could just have an over-active imagination like your deadbeat Dad used to have.”
Yeah. Good old, deadbeat Dad and his over-active imagination who turned out to be a nineteen-year-old shelf stacker named Shelly who had a ridiculous pair of, what my buddy Steve called, funbags on her.
But I was sure this dream had been different. There was just something about the girl that I knew was important. “I remember the girl.” I said firmly as Mom stopped at the door to the sitting-room, “I can see her face and hear the things she said to me,” I looked up at her, “She said I would never be alone and that she would see me again one day. Maybe,” I wondered as my mind raced away from me, “It’s not only people from the past who are in our dreams but people from the future too!”
Mom stared at me for a moment before she came and kissed me on the head. “Well, if that girl comes back ask her what this weekends lottery numbers are, hon,” She ruffled my hair and laughed as I squirmed at the lovey-dovey stuff, ” Anyway, I thought everything happened a long time ago in a galaxy far far away,” she teased, “C’mon, tiger. Get ready for school. Last week before Christmas!”
“Mom,” I sighed as I got up from the table and went and did as I was told. It was no use. Mom was just being sensible Mom. It’s just Harry with his head in the clouds as usual. As I walked past the fridge, I glanced up and saw a familiar six-inch plastic figure watching me.
“Who is she, Obi-Wan?” I asked him in a whisper, “She’s beautiful.”
Another six years would pass before I got the chance to ask that question again.
End of part 1.
Continues in The Dreamers: Part 2.